Come on, did you really think the Broncos were going to the Super Bowl? Think back to when training camp began and ask yourself if you thought at that point it was possible. Possible? Yes. Probable? No. The Broncos exceeded expectations, but ultimately ended up right about where we thought they would.
Around the midpoint of the season, the Broncos sucked me in and I didn’t mind one bit. I had my doubts about this team but after they came back in glorious fashion against the San Diego Chargers in week six, I cast all doubt aside and invested emotionally, financially and spiritually. And by the looks of things, you did too. But strange things happen on the way to planning a Super Bowl parade and if there is to be a parade for the Denver Broncos, it will have to wait until next year at least.
My skepticism did linger for awhile and I felt that despite everything we saw this year, if they ran in to a tough defense, it would be a struggle. But after they beat the Baltimore Ravens the first time, I was sold that they could go to the Super Bowl. But this was clearly a different Ravens defense and a revitalized offensive line than the ones they faced four weeks ago and it was their undoing.
Let’s get this out of the way: The Denver Broncos should have won that game and could have put it away on no less than three occasions. You know this. You lived through it. There were also some inexplicably bad calls by the officials that just seemed to pile on the Broncos already shaky performance. But still, the team was coached poorly and had several opportunities to finish the Ravens off and they just couldn’t get it done. And we should have seen it coming.
But we drank deeply of the Orange Kool-Aid and didn’t let those doubts creep in after the win streak reached epic proportions. It was understandable but it was also a bit naïve. While the Broncos pounded most of the teams they faced, the schedule was pretty soft and save for the Ravens (who played like shit in that game), it wasn’t a true test for the Broncos abilities.
And that’s ok. It was a hell of a season. If I told you in September that the Broncos would make it to the second round of the playoffs, you would have taken it. Of course the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal, but at the start of the season, one where we didn’t know if Peyton Manning was fully healthy and the Chiefs were going to run away with the division, the second round would have sounded pretty sweet.
I’ve said all along that this wasn’t going to be the Broncos year and that they are building for an extended reign of dominance in the coming seasons. And now as I clear out the orange and blue smoke that filled the room from all of your Denver Broncos bong hits, I now realize that was the case all along. If they got to the Super Bowl, I would have seen no reason why they couldn’t have won it. But seeing how they bowed out, it’s clear they weren’t destined to go that far. They fell short in spectacular fashion, but to call this season a disappointment because of that horrific loss is not seeing the big picture. When the Patriots get beat in the Super Bowl, yet again, THAT will be a disappointment. The Broncos gave us what we expected. And then our expectations became unreasonable.
I see nothing wrong with the pieces the Broncos have and I expect the roster to get stronger in the off season through free agency and a good draft. And with that, they are primed to make an even deeper run next season. We started the year hopeful, yet guarded with the Broncos chances and as they started to roll, we forgot our usual good sense as Peyton Manning-mania gripped the fan base. We’re feeling it now, like a cheap wine hangover. And if you aren’t hurting, you’re not a real fan. So seal up that Orange Kool-Aid and put it in a cool, dry place. We’ll be needing it one year from now at the parade.